TheSportsNotebook posted its selections for the final National League All-Star team on Friday. With the playoff picture all set in the National League, our MLB coverage will now close out the regular season in the senior circuit, with picks for the major individual awards.
MVP: Clayton Kershaw (SP, LA Dodgers): As you can see, I don’t have the same problem with voting for a pitcher that seems to preoccupy voters. They might only pitch every fifth day, but the impact a starting pitcher has on the game is so vast that it makes up for the frequency problem.
The reason the Dodgers won the NL West is that they have the second-best ERA in the National League. The reason the staff ranks that high is that the starting pitching, was, by far, the best in the NL. Kershaw himself was a major workhorse, logging 236 innings, going 16-9 and posting a dazzling ERA of 1.83.
A critic can point out the fact that Kershaw does his work in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball. That’s true and it’s a legitimate critique. I just happen to believe that Kershaw has put so much distance between himself and the other contenders, that it becomes a wash.
Thus we have a superlative individual effort on a successful team and being a part of the particular unit within that team most responsible for the success. Doesn’t that sound like the very definition of an MVP?
Cy Young Award: Clayton Kershaw (LA Dodgers): Since the Cy Young choice became obvious with the MVP pick, I’ll instead use this space to pay tribute to the everyday player that would be most deserving of MVP.
My pick is Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. He put up a stat line of .401 on-base percentage/.553 slugging percentage. Goldschmidt banged out 36 home runs and had 124 RBIs.
What I like the most, and what separates Goldschmidt from other worthy contenders like St. Louis second baseman Matt Carpenter, is that Goldschmidt is virtually alone as a producer in the Arizona lineup. Only one other player on the Diamondbacks has an OBP over .350 (Aaron Hill). That doesn’t leave a lot of run-producing opportunities, but Goldschmidt made the most of his.
Manager Of The Year: Clint Hurdle (Pittsburgh): Hurdle finally got the Pirates over .500 for the first time since 1992 and into the postseason, where they will host the NL wild-card game on Tuesday. With 93 wins, Hurdle did it with room to spare. He did without a true ace pitcher and with only one true star in the everyday lineup, that being centerfielder Andrew McCutchen. This was a complete team effort and that means the man in charge was putting everyone in positions to succeed.